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Murphy v. Nogan

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

December 6, 2019

TYSHEIM MURPHY, Petitioner,
v.
PATRICK NOGAN, et al., Respondents.

          Tysheim Murphy, Petitioner Pro se.

          Damon G. Tyner, Atlantic County Prosecutor John J. Santoliquido, Assistant Prosecutor Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, Attorneys for Respondents.

          OPINION

          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         This matter comes before the Court on Petitioner Tysheim Murphy's motion for an evidentiary hearing on two issues presented in his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. ECF No. 24. Respondents Patrick Nogan and the New Jersey Attorney General oppose the motion. ECF No. 25. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the motion for an evidentiary hearing as premature. Respondents are ordered to answer Grounds One through Eight and Eighteen through Twenty-three of the second amended habeas petition.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Petitioner filed this § 2254 petition on April 28, 2017. ECF No. 1. The Court administratively terminated the petition as it was not on the correct form for habeas petitions and Petitioner did not pay the filing fee. ECF No. 3. Petitioner paid the filing fee and submitted the second amended petition on July 12, 2017.[1] ECF No. 7. He also filed a motion to stay the habeas proceedings while he exhausted his state court remedies on his claim that his post-conviction relief (“PCR”) counsel was ineffective. ECF No. 8. The Court reopened the matter and directed Respondents to file a response to the motion to stay only. ECF No. 10. The motion to stay was denied on March 16, 2018. ECF No. 16.

         On April 4, 2018, Petitioner filed a letter, docketed as a Motion to Amend, asking for an extension of time to file a “more comprehensive brief to better articulate all my issues . . . .” ECF No. 17 at 1. He subsequently filed a brief and exhibits on June 19, 2018. ECF No. 20. The Court denied the Motion to Amend. ECF No. 22.

         On May 20, 2019, Petitioner filed the instant motion for an evidentiary hearing on two issues: (1) whether trial counsel was ineffective for failure to call or secure the presence of a witness at trial; and (2) whether trial counsel mislead Petitioner into believing the witness would be testifying at trial, thereby inducing Petitioner to reject the plea offer. ECF No. 24 at 5-6. Respondents oppose the motion, arguing that Petitioner has presented no new evidence beyond the evidence presented to and rejected by the state courts. ECF No. 25.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Petitioner brings this petition for a writ of habeas corpus as a pro se litigant. The Court has an obligation to liberally construe pro se pleadings and to hold them to less stringent standards than more formal pleadings drafted by lawyers. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Higgs v. Attorney Gen. of the U.S., 655 F.3d 333, 339 (3d Cir. 2011), as amended (Sept. 19, 2011) (citing Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)). A pro se habeas petition and any supporting submissions must be construed liberally and with a measure of tolerance.

         Section 2254(a) of Title 28 provides in relevant part:

(a) [A] district court shall entertain an application for a writ of habeas corpus in behalf of a person in custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court only on the ground that he is in custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.

28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). “If it plainly appears from the petition and any attached exhibits that the petitioner is not entitled to relief in the district court, the judge must dismiss the ...


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